From “The X-Files” in 1993 to “Stranger Things” in 2016, popular culture has long been certain that the government’s been experimenting successfully with psychic powers, despite our phone calls to Miss Cleo never producing the winning lottery numbers we hoped for.
The CIA’s efforts in the realm of psychic phenomena have been a matter of public knowledge for some time, but the general assumption is that, like dosing unsuspecting employees with LSD, the psychic CIA programs were failures from the start, spurred by the possibility of attaining a strategic advantage that wasn’t within scientific parameters, but ultimately proved foolhardy in scope and execution. I share this assessment of the various attempts at weaponizing the supernatural—things like remote viewing, telekinesis, and clairvoyance are all interesting bits of science fiction in my opinion—but according to a declassified CIA report, my opinion is wrong.
In a report produced for the CIA in 1995 titled “An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning,” a number of these seemingly unbelievable superpowers have been statistically proven to be real, and potentially even useful in some of the ways depicted in the movies and television shows of the past decades. Dr. Jessica Utts, a professor of statistics at the University of California, Irvine, produced the peer-reviewed paper for the CIA by conducting a meta-analysis of psychic experiments done both by the federal government and private organizations—and she came to some startling conclusions.
“Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established,” The report states. “The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted.”